St Tola Ash Log

With the faint promise of spring hanging in the air, it seemed only right that the first cheese out of the Pong Cheese Irish Selection Box should be the goat’s cheese. It’s at this time of year that fresh goat and ewe’s milk cheeses start to proliferate after a winter break when the animals tend not to give milk. As with the other cheeses in the box, St Tola is not shy and retiring, in appearance or taste:

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Pong Cheese: The Irish Selection Box

Writer G. K. Chesterton once wrote that ‘poets have been mysteriously quiet on the subject of cheese.’ It could also be said that, in comparison to Welsh, Scottish and English, this blog has also been somewhat tight-lipped on the particular subject of Irish cheese. Not entirely – Brewer’s Gold and Coolea have both featured – but still, some work to be done to redress the balance. So, with St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, when online cheese specialists Pong Cheese asked me if I’d like to review their Irish Selection Box, it seemed positively serendipitous.

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Sparkenhoe Cheese and Black Pepper Muffins

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English muffins, that is. Not your blueberry-stuffed American monsters. We’re talking bread not cupcake. This was the first time I had attempted to make an English muffin and I was nervous, especially considering the time you need to fry them for. But, aside from the time needed to prove them, they turned out to be no bother at all. In this recipe, Sparkenhoe and black pepper come together to pep up a classic.

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Adlestrop

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

If you’re a literary sort, then the name Adlestrop might mean to you a poem by Edward Thomas that evokes the last hot, indolent English summer before the outbreak of the First World War. The poem was inspired by an impromptu train stop at the village of Adlestrop, which is in Gloucestershire, just a couple of miles from the makers of…

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Ribblesdale Goat Curd Frittata with Beetroot Pesto

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This was a mid-week supper born from a collision of happy circumstances. I’ve written about Ribblesdale cheeses before, including their Smoked Goat and also their top-notch Goat Gouda, which the cheesemaker Iona was kind enough to send to me when it proved impossible to source in London. Their goat curd had proved equally elusive, until I spotted it when I was putting in a posher-than-usual supermarket order. It seemed like the perfect companion for the ceremonial eating of the only two leeks I had managed to produce at the allotment this year.

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High Weald Halloumi

I once got to be a cheese judge at a proper cheese show. I didn’t write about it at the time because I was a (very) last minute stand-in and so felt like a bit of a fraud. Plus, I didn’t take any photos because I was too busy trying to appear competent. I learned a lot that day but most of all I learned that tasting more than a dozen, uncooked, salty varieties of halloumi is not in any way a pleasant task. So, I present today’s cheese grilled and garnished, rather than in its raw and naked state. Any other way still makes me shudder.

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Ticklemore Goats’ Cheese Twists

This post was meant to have been written days ago. It’s not even a very long or informative post. It’s probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever written up. But, still, it disappeared into the time-space vacuum otherwise known as ‘Life’. It was also a post that proved to me that cheese straws are one of the most boring foodstuffs in the world to try and photograph.

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Ticklemore

You know that your cheese obsession is getting out of hand when you realise that you’ve got favourite rinds. Manchego is always a beauty, criss-crossed like a cheese in a tweed jacket. Back on the British Isles, I love the unusual Suffolk Gold which is covered in grey furry moleskin, the dramatic navy-brain of Isle of Wight Blue and, of course, the jade livery of Cornish Yarg, which my photography skills could never do justice to. This week’s flying saucer of a cheese could also be a contender.

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Tornegus

Some cheeses have the whiff of legend about them. Tornegus whiffs of both legend and old dishcloths, what with it being a washed rind cheese. You might not have heard of Tornegus but its family tree takes in some of the greatest British cheeses and their producers.

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Dorset Blue Vinny, Veggie and Bean Soup

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Dorset Blue Vinny was the first cheese I ever wrote about on this blog. At that point, I was planning to find out about cheeses from all over the world but, as I researched the Vinny, I realised that, cheese-wise, there was enough history and variety on the British Isles to keep me going for some time. Nearly four years later and there’s still about 500 cheeses I have yet to track down!

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